I absolutely hate the idea of stepping on the scale. I’m not afraid of it… I use it…I just think it’s dumb. It doesn’t matter if I’m doing it for myself, or stepping on it at the doctor’s office. I hate the idea of stepping on the scale, having a number pop up, and then (either me or someone else) thinking ‘hmm, okay” then making mental (or physical notes) of my weight. The numbers aren’t what bother me. It’s the idea that I’m summed up in a number. Ugh. Ultimately the scale only tells you one thing. How much you weigh. Fair enough right? Wrong. When on a fitness journey, your weight is only a small component of your overall fitness. What about your body composition? Has your body fat percentage changed? Most scales won’t tell you that. Have you lost any inches? The scale surely won’t tell you that. How about if you can fit those skinny jeans that you haven’t been able to wear, but are just too cute to throw away? The scale gives no help there either. Improved eating habits, increased energy, better sleep, and improved mood are all side effects of living a healthier lifestyle. Jumping on the scale only tells you one thing. How much you weigh. This is not a complete picture of your progress. The bad part is that we almost can’t help it. It’s been the go-to tool for weight loss progress since forever! It’s pretty much a necessary evil. The one thing that I can say that I’ve been lucky to do is conquer any anxiety that I used to feel about having to get on the scale, and understand the tool that it is. Here are some of my thoughts on the scale and how to get past the anxiety that using one brings.

Tip: Use other things that are important to you to track your fitness level. How are your clothes fitting? Can you finally run a mile without stopping?
Loose jeans
Forget the scale! Are your jeans looser? That’s progress!!

The scale is one of those things that for whatever reason, EVERYONE has in their bathroom! The scale can be a great tool to monitor your progress, but it’s often overused. You get up, hop on the scale, and are excited that you lost weight from the night before, throughout the day you eat and drink and live your best life, just to come home and see it waiting on you. You hop on the scale again. Fully dressed and with 2-3 meals (plus fluids) already in your system, you’re probably about 2-4lbs heavier than you were in the morning. That’s discouraging. Later that evening after getting rid of some of the weight from your meals, and an intense workout, you get on the scale before bed maybe about 1-3lbs lighter than you were mid-day. Ok, you think…progress. You go to bed, and the yo-yo of emotion continues the next day.

We’ve all done it at some point. It’s hard not to do. You see the scale at least 4-5 times each day (depending on how many bathrooms you have and which one it’s in). The reality is that this is totally unfair to yourself, and emotionally, it does NOTHING for you. It’s typical to be lighter during your morning weigh-ins. You’re usually wearing less clothes, your body has absorbed and eliminated the fluids (and possibly foods) you had the day before (let’s be honest, no one weighs themselves until AFTER the morning toilet run). Yet, it may provide some motivation, or encouragement. That’s a good thing, right? Yes. The thing is that the additional weigh-ins through the day, are often going to show that you’ve gained weight. And you typically will…through eating, drinking, and simply putting on clothes. I’m not crazy about it, but if weighing more in the afternoon ensures that you make a trip to the gym in the evening, cool.

Tip: IF you insist on weighing yourself every day, do it in the morning, or at night… choose your preference, and stick to it.
woman on scale
Be consistent with weigh-ins, wear the same clothes and weigh-in at the same time (morning or evening)

Basically, when we start on a weight loss journey, we often step on the scale way too much! As stated earlier, some of us weigh ourselves every day, some of us weigh ourselves multiple times each day. Either way, I feel that it’s too much. Weighing yourself once each day is better than multiple times, but it’s still excessive. There are many things that can have an effect on your weight for the day. The problem with obsessing over the number on the scale is that it gets to the point where it’s no longer just about the number you see, but the emotional attachment and reaction to that number. Who needs that kind of stress daily? No one. You want and expect a child to grow with nurturing and nourishment, but you don’t measure their height every day! If you are being active, and improving your eating habits, you’re going to lose weight. Trust the process!

I typically request that my clients don’t set foot on the scale more than once each month. Along with a series of other measurements, I have them weigh themselves as a baseline measurement. This ‘assessment day’ will give a more complete description of results. After that, I usually ask them to remove the scale from plain sight and put it in a closet somewhere until the next assessment time. My goal is to eliminate their temptation of weighing themselves frequently. This will help focus on the process of making lifestyle changes for the long run, instead of trying to gauge every daily improvement or mistake. Often, after the detachment from the scale, most clients are able to really zone in on their daily actions and emotions that contribute to their results, instead of just the number on the scale.

Tip: Choosing monthly weigh-ins will allow you to track your progress without the constant stress of weighing more often. Turn your monthly weigh in to an overall progress check by taking measurements and trying on those jeans that have gotten uncomfortable.

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